Describe your father.

This was one of the questions I was asked in an interview for a position I applied for in a prestigious auditing firm in Ayala, Makati sometime in 1986 or 1987.

Describe your father.

It’s not really a question. It’s an imperative sentence.

The interviewer was requesting me to describe my father. I knew that my acceptance to the firm I so longed to belong would depend on how I answered this question.

What does my father have to do with my job? Oh, I know. They want to know how I was raised. They want to know about my relationship with my father.

It should have been so easy to answer because I had been very fond of my father. I was daddy’s little girl.

I remember he used to make a lot of jokes. There was this trick that he pulled up on me and my sister. He pretended that he picked his nose with his index finger. Then he would lick his middle finger. He did it so quickly that we thought he licked the finger that was just up his nose. He always got a good laugh from us.

He liked music. He had vinyl records of The Platters, The Commodores, The Temptations and the like and he would play them over and over and the music would fill the house. He also had a harmonica and he sometimes played out a few tunes before he went to bed.

Sometimes he would ask me to pull out his gray hairs. I remember how I liked combing my fingers through his naturally curly and thick hair. Mine was very straight and I hated it. Whenever I was searching for his gray hairs, my mother would come and point out to me that he had seven puyo (cowlick on the head). “It is very unusual for anybody to have seven puyo,” my mother would say. “Old folks believe that a person who has several puyo is stubborn or is always looking for trouble.” And she’d flash me a smile.

I could have told all these things to the interviewer. But I thought that she’d find all these answers very childish.

Describe your father.

I winched at my seat, my palms sweating profusely.

My father is an alcoholic. He beat up my mother really bad and they separated. He stole money from her. My mother went to work abroad so she could put my sister and me through college. And we were left to live with relatives. My father still drinks and is living with one relative to the next.

These were the thoughts that were playing in my head at that time. But I couldn’t tell these to the interviewer. What kind of daughter would I look like saying this kind of things about my father?

Describe your father.

I tried to gather the right words to say.

My father is a simple man with simple dreams. He is a smart man and he spent a lot of times with me when I was little. He helped me with my homework. He explained Math to me and showed me tricks on how to solve number problems. This is why I think I am very good in Math and wanted to be an accountant. There was also a time when he stayed up late with me one night to help me finish my Art project.

I don’t know if it was my answer, but I didn’t get a call back from that prestigious auditing firm.